‘New southbound policy’ boosts incentive travel to Taiwan

Taipei--More companies in Southeast Asian countries have been choosing Taiwan as a destination for employee incentive vacations thanks to the Taipei government's "new southbound policy," which aims to strengthen ties with countries in South and Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand, the Tourism Bureau said on Friday.

The number of visitors from those areas to Taiwan on incentive travel programs grew 93.09 percent year-on-year in 2016, with Thais and Vietnamese accounting for the largest share, the bureau said.

According to the bureau, visa-free entry for Thai nationals under the new southbound policy has led to the largest increase in incentive travel among all target countries, with 144 percent growth from 2015 to 2016.

In addition, nearly 2,000 Vietnamese visited Taiwan last year on incentive tourism programs, the bureau said.

Vietnam currently enjoys a streamlined visa application process, along with citizens from Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members not already included in Taiwan's visa-waiver programs -- including the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos and Myanmar.

The number of visitors engaged in incentive tourism continues to increase, the bureau said, pointing out that 500 employees from the Vietnamese branch of FrieslandCampina arrived in Taiwan on March 15.

The Taiwan government is hoping to diversify the sources of in-bound visitors as the number of tourists from China declined by 16 percent in 2016 amid cooling relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

A total of 10.69 million visitors came to Taiwan in 2016, 2.4 percent more than in the previous year. Out of that number, 3.51 million were Chinese nationals.

Source: Overseas Community Affairs Council